Small Talk Archive: September 2015

From Whittling to Wood Carving: Tudor Furniture

Tudor Furniture

In addition to the beautiful wood carvings adorning this Tudor bedroom’s walls and ceiling, Thomas Warner crafted the furniture. The chairs with crossed legs and the four-poster bed’s ornate details are carved out of walnut. The bible stand, or prie-dieu, is also intricately carved with a cross and features a slanted and hinged top.

Additional miniature artists lent their skills to furnish the room with rich textiles: needlework from Annelle Ferguson, upholstery by Frank Hanley and Jeffery Gueno (of Le Chateau Interiors), and an embroidery frame and gold jewel box by William R. Robertson.

The Little Big Apple

Panorama of the City of New York

New York City’s tall buildings and busy sidewalks make it easy for the average pedestrian to feel, well, pretty small. Visitors to the Queens Museum, however, have the chance to reverse that feeling by taking a trip to the Panorama of the City of New York. The panorama depicts all five NYC boroughs in super-small 1:1200 scale (one inch equals 100 feet).

Originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the panorama was billed as an indoor helicopter tour of New York (the helicopters were actually plastic cars on a rolling track.) Since then, it has been updated several times (the last being in 1992) to reflect new skyscrapers, parks, and other new features. In 2009, the Queens Museum launched an Adopt-a-Building program to help preserve the model and bring it up to date yet again. At $50 a building, that’s the cheapest rent in NYC!
Photo by Scott Rudd, courtesy of Queens Museum.

From Whittling to Wood Carving: A Tudor Bedroom

tudor style woodwork

Thomas Warner received a pocketknife when he was just four years old, or so the story goes. From that moment on, Warner was a wood carver. Later in life, he would say that he “stumbled into” miniatures by adapting his life-long fondness for whittling into the more sophisticated crafting of miniatures.

In high school shop class, Warner gathered skills to make many of his own tools, including router beds, chisels, and finishing tools. And years of work as a mechanical engineer and draftsman trained him for precise scale workmanship. Warner’s English Tudor style bedroom at T/m has a carved white ceiling and dark wood walls. Unfortunately, Warner became too ill to finish the room, and fellow miniature artist William R. Robertson stepped in to add the finishing touches.

A Primo Premium Dollhouse

Dunham Cocoanut Dollhouse

Remember digging through cereal boxes for the prize inside, or sending in proofs of purchase in exchange for a special premium toy? If so, you will not be surprised to learn that toys and advertising have been intertwined for a very long time. Since the 19th century, companies like Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, and Texaco have teamed up with toy companies to promote their goods.

One of the earliest examples of premium toys is this 1892 dollhouse made by Dunham Manufacturing Company. Don’t let the fancy lithographed Victorian interior fool you though: this dollhouse was actually a packing crate for Dunham’s brand of shredded coconut confections. Complete with four rooms that include a lithographed fish tank and a moose head, the house and its cardboard furniture were likely available to children who collected and redeemed enough Dunham’s box tops. Just think of all the kids in the 1890s asking their mom if they could eat coconut for every meal!

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